Pratchett, Terry: (35) Wintersmith

Terry Pratchett’s latest Discworld book, Wintersmith, is the third Tiffany Aching book and something I’ve been slavering after since 2004, when I heard him read from it at Noreascon. He ended his reading an evil cliffhanger; I think he’d intended to read another section, but decided against it when the audience burst into applause at the aforementioned cliffhanger.

Probably very few books could live up to two years of eager anticipation. Wintersmith is a very enjoyable book. But I find odd a few things about its structure; not necessarily bad, just odd.

Tiffany Aching joins a dance that’s not meant for her and inadvertently fascinates the Wintersmith, who wasn’t exactly the personification of winter until this interesting human catches his attention . . .

It’s not easy, when a season has a crush on you.

Okay, the structural oddities, in no particular order.

  • The book is in something of two parts, the Wintersmith plot and the further education of the young witches Tiffany got to know in the prior book. In a general sense, they relate, in that Tiffany becoming a better witch helps her deal with the Wintersmith; but the connection is much less prominent than the witching stuff was to the hiver plot of the last book, and the resolution of the Wintersmith plot seems a bit simple. Fitting, but not quite the thing to wait a whole book on. I really like the witching stuff, mind, but it doesn’t quite seem to cohere with the rest.
  • The evil cliffhanger is from quite late in the story chronologically, but is chapter one of the book. I’m not quite sure what it’s doing there. There’s nothing actually wrong with it being there, but it’s a bit odd. What I actively, though mildly, dislike, is the narrative comment after the evil cliffhanger, which sets up an unfulfilled expectation.
  • There’s a subplot with Roland, who Tiffany rescued from Fairie in the first book. I like this subplot very much (possibly my favorite line in the book is the comment Rob Anyway makes about sandwiches), but it comes in late and feels a little unbalanced thereby.

I like the book, I do. It just puzzles me.

Pratchett has said in the past that there may be a total of four Tiffany Aching books. There feels like there’s more story to be told about Tiffany to me (in the same way that there felt like there wasn’t more story to be told about Granny Weatherwax after Carpe Jugulum, and since then she’s appeared only as a supporting character). I have no knowledge about Pratchett’s present intentions, but I hope there’s another; there are some interesting possibilities opened up by this book.

3 Comments

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  1. The beginning part was puzzling. I don’t know why he didn’t just put it where it belongs, instead of putting it upfront, ruining a lot of suspense, and then re-introducing suspense with a total fake-out.

  2. I mean, you can put your ending at the beginning if you want, it’s a time-honored tradition. But what I disliked was (ROT-13)
    gur pbzzrag nobhg ubj vg zvtug be zvtug abg unccra, juvpu V rkcrpgrq gb yrnq gb gur Gebhfref bs Gvzr, naq gura jnf arire zragvbarq ntnva.

  3. Not much to add, except that the “oddities” didn’t bother me.
    One little thing that I found fun (which will only make sense to “Buffy” fans) is that one of the Nac Mac Feegle’s was named “Wee Dangerous Spike”.
    And following up on Kate’s comment… 🙂
    Hasbeghangryl gur Gebhfref bs Gvzr jrer fgvyy ng gur qel pyrnaref…

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